Review: Second time around for Icelandic neo-classical composer Olafur Arnalds' 2018 album "Re:Member". This version, pressed for Record Store Day 2019, boasts a fine bonus 7" containing strings-only re-recordings of three original album tracks ("Saman", "Momentary" and "Nyepi"). These are superb and genuinely compliment the original 12-track set, which was produced using specially created software capable of triggering new musical sequences on "two pianos chained to his primary instrument". This cutting-edge approach, combined with live percussion and the multi-instrumentalist's own considered electronics, resulted in an album that remains thoughtful, mesmerizing and entertaining in equal measure.
Review: Just the fact that the Shahr Farag imprint is from Iran is enough to grab our attention. This is both because it feels like a novelty to the scene, but also because that vast majority of arts that come out of the country are always so interesting. This time, label owners Lenta and Ahu are joined by Romanian minimal expert Vlad Caia, who serves an excellent, Eastern-minded quasi-dance rhythm in "Declination", and a purely abstract barrack of drones and low frequencies on "Neptune". Lenta himself drops a fuzzy wash of sounds and disparate beats through "Your Existence", while Ahu's "Blind By The Sun" has something in common with dub-techno, except that here the sounds that flutter up and down are grainy and imperceptible...and wholly wonderful. Tip!
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Gravity Graffiti has been doing great things with its series of split 12"s already, but now the Italian label goes one better for its tenth release with this mighty double pack of heavy hitters. First up is the ever-untouchable Yoshinori Hayashi, who gets as straight up as he possibly could with the freaky house burner "Dissociative." Telephones is feeling particularly dubbed out and groovy on "Kalimbalimbo", while DB.Source and Riccardo Schiro take things strung out and textural on "Montevago". Dynamo Dreesen is in rave mode for the pepped up and delightfully weird "Reactivate", leaving the final side to Oyvind Morken & Kaman Leung's chugging "Tunnel Visjon" and the rubbery side swipes of Acidboychair's "The End (At Any Speed)".
Review: Adam Wiltizie and Dustin O'Halloran return to their A Winged Victory For The Sullen project with a complete edition of all their Atomos works for the electrifying Kranky imprint - the best of homes for cutting-edge sonics and scintillating soundscapes. After a preview 12" of "VII" out earlier this year, this full compilation contains all eleven tracks for your listening pleasure. Blissful drones, neo-classical strings and just the right amount of noise paint a rather special picture. Listen to those violins intertwine so majestically with the powerful electronic backdrops of sound. Lovely stuff.
Review: Roberto Aglieri is a noted Italian flutist and composer, and his 1987 album Ragapadani stands as one of his finest achievements. Archeo Recordings are ever hip to the finest treasures hidden away in the folds of esoteric music, Italian or otherwise, and have done a great service in reissuing the album so that it might reach a wider audience. Aglieri's flute sounds haunting and evocative over the range of delicate synth treatments, largely orbiting the minimal realm but with a naive charm that makes the music wholly accessible at the same time. Soothing, thoughtfully crafted music for tender times.
Review: Danish tech house hero Samuel Andre Madsen's International Sun/Earth Explorer has been in fine form since its inception in 2016. How he finds the time between his prolific output as S.A.M. or as part of the power trio Mandar (with Lazare Hoche and Malin Genie) we'll never know but good on him! Unlike his main imprint Delaphine, he started this label as an outlet for the ambient works of himself and other artists such as Pellarin and Route. It now presents a double LP by Iranian producer in Berlin: Ahu, who has had releases on Third Ear and runs the imprint Shahr Farang. A tremendous body of work which is diverse yet cohesive; the bittersweet and evocative betaless journeys are contrasted by a handful of minimal deep house jams of the dubbier persuasion and even some lush shoegaze style moments towards the end. A highly recommended listen.
Review: Dutch producer Aleks makes the leap to the album format for the ever-crucial Organic Analogue label, showcasing the breadth of his smoky sound from the gorgeous ambient opening track "Void" to the deep tracking tech-dream of "Gone Home". There are some spicier moments to be head, such as the rugged workout "NTH" and the upfront, rolling house thrust of "City Break", but these moments are still smoothed out by a fog of woozy processing, lingering pads and dusty FX that give the whole record a somnambulant quality that feels right at home amongst the standout material that Organic Analogue is rightly celebrated for.
Review: Amandra is a French producer, who with partner Ovend runs Ahrpe: a record label founded in 2014. Other than that, he's fresh of a killer split EP on Konstrukt with grey area specialist ASC, in addition to an appearance for Spanish imprint Semantica. His second full length entitled 'Dame De Bahia' comes courtesy of Obscura, run by Southern Italian power trio Agents Of Time. A collection of lush and hypnotic tracks that dwell on the deeper end of techno spectrum yet creating a cohesive whole - a compelling listen overall. Highlights include the dry and broken analogue jitter of "Polichinela" which calls to mind the work of Sebastian Mullaert (wait until that acid comes creeping in), the transcendental tribalism of the title track would make even Refracted stand up and notice, while the downbeat trance induction of "Matisa Anse" will have you levitating in no time.
Review: Since 2012, much of Oren Ambarchi's solo has been focused on the intense potential of driving rhythms. "Simian Angel", the experimentalist guitarist and percussionist's 21st solo set, is a far more picturesque and slowly shifting affair. While there are distant drums present on opener "Palm Sugar Candy" (provided by Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista), these are buried a little in the mix, with Ambarchi's becalmed electronic tones, slow motion ambient chords and distinctive, effects-laden guitars taking centre stage. The results are warm, inviting and sun-kissed. The same could be said about title track "Simian Angel", an opaque, sun-bright suite of interconnected movements marked out by intricate piano solos, hazy guitar tones and visceral aural textures.
Review: Amble is the new recording alias of an artist known only as Ess M, a Swedish producer who recorded this debut album at home "with a few select instruments". According to the brief sleeve notes, each of the tracks was recorded at night following days spent at work, resulting in less sleep but a set that ripples with otherworldly quality. Much of the material is reminiscent of the IDM sounds of the early to mid 1990s, where ambient style chords, melodies and gently throbbing acid lines rise above hushed or laidback beats. It makes for superb listening, with the producer's keenness on short, tight tracks resulting in a quickly changing journey through ear-pleasing, emotive electronica.